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Research Papers

The Role of Neck Muscle Activities on the Risk of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury in American Football

[+] Author and Article Information
Xin Jin, Zhaoying Feng, Valerie Mika, King H. Yang

Department of Biomedical Engineering,
Wayne State University,
Detroit, MI 48201

Haiyan Li

Department of Biomedical Engineering,
Wayne State University,
Detroit, MI 48201;
College of Mechanical Engineering,
Tianjin University of Science and Technology,
Tianjin 300222, China

David C. Viano

Department of Biomedical Engineering,
Wayne State University,
Detroit, MI 48201;
Probiomechanics LLC,
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304

Manuscript received April 28, 2016; final manuscript received July 11, 2017; published online August 16, 2017. Editor: Beth A. Winkelstein.

J Biomech Eng 139(10), 101002 (Aug 16, 2017) (7 pages) Paper No: BIO-16-1174; doi: 10.1115/1.4037399 History: Received April 28, 2016; Revised July 11, 2017

Concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), is frequently associated with sports activities. It has generally been accepted that neck strengthening exercises are effective as a preventive strategy for reducing sports-related concussion risks. However, the interpretation of the link between neck strength and concussion risks remains unclear. In this study, a typical helmeted head-to-head impact in American football was simulated using the head and neck complex finite element (FE) model. The impact scenario selected was previously reported in lab-controlled incident reconstructions from high-speed video footages of the National Football League using two head-neck complexes taken from Hybrid III dummies. Four different muscle activation strategies were designed to represent no muscle response, a reactive muscle response, a pre-activation response, and response due to stronger muscle strength. Head kinematics and various head/brain injury risk predictors were selected as response variables to compare the effects of neck muscles on the risk of sustaining the concussion. Simulation results indicated that active responses of neck muscles could effectively reduce the risk of brain injury. Also, anticipatory muscle activation played a dominant role on impact outcomes. Increased neck strength can decrease the time to compress the neck and its effects on reducing brain injury risks need to be further studied.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

The head and neck complex extracted from the GHBM. (a) and (b) bulk muscles for simulating passive response; (c) and (d) 27 pairs of active muscles.

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Fig. 2

Stress–strain curve defined for helmet foam

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Fig. 3

Determination of the impact location and direction using trial and error method by comparing (a) impact force, (b) translational velocity, and (c) translational acceleration calculated from simulations to those reported experimental data by Viano et al. [4]. (a) Frontal view and (b) top view.

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Fig. 4

Final impact location and direction

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Fig. 5

Comparisons of head rotational velocities among all setups

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Fig. 6

Distributions of elements exceeded the injury threshold of 15% at 35 ms postimpact for No_muscle (volume = 27.4%) and Early_activation (volume = 17.8%) setups

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Fig. 7

Neck compression under different muscle strengths

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